Debate must on triple talaq bill in RS: Jaitley

New Delhi, Jan 3 (PTI) Senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley today said there must be a debate in the Rajya Sabha on the triple talaq bill and a decision on whether it has to be sent to a select committee should be taken after that by the House.

Addressing the BJP Parliamentary Party, the Union finance minister also accused the Congress of “double standards” on the bill, saying it was trying to stall the proposed legislation in the Rajya Sabha after supporting its passage in the Lok Sabha.

Amid a demand by opposition parties that the bill, which criminalises instant talaq by Muslim men, be sent to a select committee, Jaitley said a debate over the bill was a must.

“We should ensure that there is a debate on the bill in the Rajya Sabha. The floor will then decide its fate. A decision on whether it has to be sent to a select committee or not will be taken then,” he told party MPs, according to party sources.

Targeting a section of opposition parties, he said they had pleaded before the judiciary that domestic violence charges should not be bailable but were toeing a different line when it came to the rights of Muslim women.

“The Congress is showing double standards. It is trying to stall the bill in the Rajya Sabha after supporting it in the Lok Sabha,” Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar quoted Jaitley as saying.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah were also present in the weekly meeting of BJP MPs.

The government’s attempt to table the bill in the Uper House today faced a stiff resistance from the opposition and it is likely to push for a debate on this again tomorrow.

The government has to depend on the opposition and other non-NDA parties in the Rajya Sabha for passage of its bills as it does not have a majority in the House, unlike in the Lok Sabha where it enjoys strong support.

Kumar said the government has been talking to the Congress and other parties to ensure passage of the triple talaq bill.

The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill was passed by the Lok Sabha last week.

In the meeting, Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi told the MPs that the Saudi Arabia government had increased Haj quota for Indians by 36,000 due to efforts of the Modi government.

The quota was reduced by 25,000 when the UPA was in power, he said.

The minister also spoke about the government’s move to do away with requirement of ‘mehram’ (male guardian) for women, who are 45 years of age or older going, for Haj.

He accused the Congress of launching a “disinformation campaign” to portray the government as working against Muslim interests and cited these measures to highlight its works in the interest of the minority community.

In the weekly meeting of the BJP MPs, Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thaawachand Gehlot briefed them on the OBC bill, which was introduced in the Lok Sabha later.

The BJP has showcased the bill, which seeks constitutional status and more power the OBC commission, as a proof of its commitment to empowering backward classes.

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